A bruised teenage girl clung to the wreckage of a Yemeni plane for more than 13 hours before rescuers found her floating in the Indian Ocean, a French official said Wednesday.
There was no word on any other survivors, but French officials said one of the plane’s black boxes had been found.
The Yemenia Airbus 310 jet carrying 153 people to island nation of Comoros crashed into the sea early Tuesday as it attempted to land in the dark amid howling winds.
An Associated Press reporter saw 14-year-old Bahia Bakari in a Comoros hospital Wednesday as she was visited by government officials. She was conscious with bruises on her face and a gauze bandage on her elbow.
“It is a true miracle. She is a courageous young girl,” Alain Joyandet, France’s minister for international cooperation, said at the hospital. “She held onto a piece of the plane from 1:30 a.m to 3:00 p.m. She has lost her mother. Her father arrives tomorrow.”
The girl’s father told French radio that his daughter was “fragile” and could “barely swim” but managed to hang on.
Kassim Bakari said he spoke with his oldest daughter by phone after Tuesday’s crash. Bahia had left Paris on Monday night with her mother to see family in the Comoros.
He said she was ejected and found herself beside the plane.
“She couldn’t feel anything, and found herself in the water. She heard people speaking around her but she couldn’t see anyone in the darkness,” Bakari said on France’s RTL radio. “She’s a very timid girl, I never thought she would escape like that.”
A nurse at El Mararouf hospital in the Comoros capital of Moroni said the girl was “doing well”.
Sgt. Said Abdilai told Europe 1 radio that Bahia was too weak to grasp the life ring rescuers threw to her, so he jumped into the sea to get her. He said rescuers gave the trembling girl warm water with sugar.